A consortium of UK industrial, technology and engineering businesses from across the aerospace, automotive and medical sectors, has come together to produce medical ventilators for the UK.
The VentilatorChallengeUK consortium is led by Dick Elsy, CEO of High Value Manufacturing (HVM) Catapult, a group of manufacturing research centres in the UK.
Over the past week the consortium has been working hard to investigate production of a range of ventilator design options to meet a high-level specification for a Rapidly Manufactured Ventilator System (RMVS) developed by clinicians and the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).
It has evaluated all requirements to design, manufacture, assemble and test components, as well as finished medical ventilators.
Companies in the consortium have now received formal orders from the Government in excess of 10,000 units.
It will now accelerate production of an agreed new design, based on existing technologies, which can be assembled from materials and parts in current production.
The device combines existing proven clinical equipment and is the clinicians’ first choice for the RMVS.
The regulator has been involved throughout and we anticipate a straightforward and very prompt regulatory sign off after the final audit.
The consortium is now working at full speed to take the necessary steps in order to increase production of this design and production will begin this week.
The consortium also includes another producer of medical ventilators and it will provide them with additional manufacturing support and assembly facilities in order to scale up production of a second existing ventilator design which has full regulatory approval.
In response to the NHS’ requirements to treat coronavirus patients, there are a range of other projects aiming to increase ventilator production.
The VentilatorChallengeUK consortium is committed to playing its role in delivering both medical ventilator designs to the required specifications and, in conjunction with these other companies, organisations and groups, aid the delivery of additional ventilators to the NHS.
The companies involved have taken many of their people from key company projects to do this and serve the national need.
Dick Elsy, the HVM Catapult’s chief executive, said: “This consortium brings together some of the most innovative companies in the world.
“Every day, their highly-skilled staff collaborate to create solutions that help millions of people, and this project is no different.
“They are working together with incredible determination and energy to scale up production of much-needed ventilators and combat a virus that is affecting people in many countries.
“I am confident this consortium has the skills and tools to make a difference and save lives.”Unite, the UK and Ireland’s largest union with members spanning across all industry sectors, has welcomed the public disclosure of the work being done by the Ventilator Challenge Consortium which has brought together many UK manufacturers to begin rapidly building medical ventilators and breathing apparatus needed by the NHS to help tackle the coronavirus crisis.
The consortium, which includes the best of the UK’s world-class manufacturing giants, including Airbus, Siemens, Ford, BAE Systems, GKN Aerospace, and Rolls-Royce, who work closely with Unite, is meeting the challenge of a global crisis to ensure components, as well as engineering and the manufacturing capability is available to produce life-saving equipment.
Steve Turner, Unite assistant general secretary for manufacturing, said: “In this time of national crisis, it is important we recognise and appreciate the dedication of the workers who are coming together across British industry to help our NHS and to save the lives of the most vulnerable in society.
“The announcement is a sign that those working in Britain’s high-tech manufacturing sector are rising to the challenge without question, putting their world-leading skills to use in a wartime-type effort to build life-saving equipment for our NHS.
“It graphically demonstrates the value of cooperation and coordination and is a stark reminder of why it is so important for the UK to maintain and expand its national manufacturing capabilities and capacity, including the skills and knowledge of its world class workforce.
“I am enormously proud to support the work which has been announced today and of Unite members who are going the extra mile to do what is required of them in unprecedented times.
“The work of the consortium in bringing about cross company and union collaboration means that no time will be wasted ‘re-inventing the wheel’ when building medical equipment desperately needed now in our NHS.”
Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive said: “The essential and extraordinary work of this consortium will offer a beacon of hope to our NHS and all of society, and is a shining example of how the wider automotive and other manufacturing sectors can help in this time of crisis.
The entire sector stands ready to help the national effort in every way possible, from production of critical medical equipment, to supporting delivery of essential supplies, maintaining emergency service vehicles and providing transport for key workers to support the most vulnerable in our communities.”
Nigel Stein, automotive council chairman, said: “This announcement is a welcome boost for the country at this critical time and shows what can be achieved when government and industry work together.
“Such collaboration has helped make this vital sector globally competitive, with a highly skilled, dedicated and productive workforce that will be essential to getting the economy back on its feet once this crisis is over.”